Assyrian continuity

This article is part of the series on the

History of the Assyrian people

Early history

Old Assyrian Empire (20th–15th c. BCE)
Neo-Assyrian Empire (911–612 BCE)
Achaemenid Assyria (539–330 BCE)

Classical Antiquity

Seleucid Empire (312–63 BCE)
Parthian Empire (247 BCE – 224 CE)
Osroene (132 BCE – 244 CE)
Syrian Wars (66 BCE – 217 CE)
Roman Syria (64 BCE – 637 CE)
Adiabene (15–116)
Roman Assyria (116–118)
Christianization (1st to 3rd c.)
Nestorian Schism (5th c.)
Asōristān (226–651)
Byzantine–Sasanian wars (502–628)

Middle Ages

Muslim conquest of Persia (630s-640s)
Abbasid Caliphate (750–1258)
Emirs of Mosul (905–1383)
Buyid amirate (945–1055)
Principality of Antioch (1098–1268)
Ilkhanate (1258–1335)
Jalairid Sultanate (1335–1432)
Kara Koyunlu (1375–1468)
Ağ Qoyunlu (1453–1501)

Modern History

Safavid dynasty (1508-1555)
Ottoman Empire (1555–1917)
Schism of 1552 (16th c.)
Massacres of Badr Khan (1840s)
Massacres of Diyarbakir (1895)
Rise of nationalism (19th c.)
Adana massacre (1909)
Assyrian genocide (1914–1920)
Assyrian independence movement (since 1919)
Simele massacre (1933)
Post-Saddam Iraq (since 2003)

See also

Assyrian continuity
Assyrian–Chaldean–Syriac diaspora

The Assyrian continuity claim deals with the assertion made by the modern Assyrians that they are at root the direct descendants of the Semitic Akkadian inhabitants of ancient Assyria. The modern Assyrians are an indigenous ethnic minority inhabiting northern Iraq, south east Turkey, north east Syria and north west Iran. They are a Semitic people who speak, read and write Upper Mesopotamian Eastern Aramaic dialects, and are Christians, with most being members of the Assyrian Church of the East, Chaldean Catholic Church, Syriac Orthodox Church, Assyrian Pentecostal Church, Assyrian Evangelical Church and Ancient Church of the East. Syriac Christians in the Levant do not generally regard themselves as Assyrians, with some more commonly adherents of Arameanism (see Terms for Syriac Christians).

The idea that modern Mesopotamian Christians are descended from the ancient Assyrians was formulated by 19th century archaeologists and Assyriologists such as Austen Henry Layard and his Assyrian assistant Hormuzd Rassam,[1] and was popularized by Anglican missionaries such as Horatio Southgate and George Percy Badger. In the 20th century Assyrian continuity was promoted by scholars such as the prominent Assyriologist H. W. F. Saggs, and after the Assyrian Genocide and subsequent Assyrian struggle for independence it was warmly endorsed by a number of leading Assyrian figures such as Naum Faiq and Freydun Atturaya. Some modern scholars, such as J.F. Coakley, Jean Maurice Fiey and John Joseph (himself an Assyrian),[2] have largely refuted the modern Assyrian claim of descent from the ancient Assyrians of Mesopotamia, and their succeeding the Akkadians and the Babylonians as one continuous civilization. A notable contingent of contemporary Western scholars support Assyrian continuity, including Simo Parpola,[3] Richard N. Frye,[4][4] Mordechai Nisan and Robert D. Biggs.[5] Supporters of Assyrian continuity point to the continued existence of Assyria as an entity after its fall, the continuation of Assyrian native religion and names well into the Assyrian Christian period, the lack of any proof that the population of Assyria was wiped out or destroyed after its fall, the continual documented use of the term Assyrian and its derivatives, and the long standing argument regarding the Etymology of Syria now strongly favours the position that Syrian in its many forms does in fact derive from Assyrian.

Views from the Classical Era

The Median Empire and Achaemenid Empire retained Assyria as a geo-political entity and province, as did the succeeding Seleucid Empire, Parthian Empire, Roman Empire and Sassanid Empire, together covering a period from the beginning of the 6th century BC to he mid 7th century AD. Assyria continued to endure as Athura (Achaemenid Assyria), Seleucid Syria (etymologically Syria originally referred to Assyria), Assyria(Roman province) and Assuristan.

The late 5th century BC Greek historian Thucydides calls the Imperial Aramaic of the Neo Assyrian Empire and Achaemenid Empire the Assyrian language.

In the late 4th century BC the armies of Alexander the Great came upon people they called Assyroi in upper Mesopotamia.

In the first century prior to the dawn of Christianity, the geographer Strabo (64 BC-21 AD) confirms Herodotus’ statement by writing that;

When those who have written histories about the Syrian empire say that the Medes were overthrown by the Persians and the Syrians by the Medes, they mean by the Syrians no other people than those who built the royal palaces in Ninus (Nineveh); and of these Syrians, Ninus was the man who founded Ninus, in Aturia (Assyria) and his wife, Semiramis, was the woman who succeeded her husband... Now, the city of Ninus was wiped out immediately after the overthrow of the Syrians. It was much greater than Babylon, and was situated in the plain of Aturia. Although the mention of Ninus as having founded Assyria is inaccurate, as is the claim that Semiramis was his wife, the salient point in Strabo's statement is the recognition that the Greek term Syria historically meant Assyria.[6]

Strabo also lists several of the traditional cities (including Nineveh and 'Calachene' Kalhu) in the Assyrian heartland, which he calls Aturia. He goes on to say "the customs of the Persians are like those of the Assyrians," and also calls Babylon a "metropolis of Assyria"

Flavius Josephus, writing in the 1st century AD, describes the inhabitants of the state of Adiabene as Assyrians.[7] Similarly, Osroene, Beth Garmai, Beth Nuhadra and Hatra were Syriac-speaking states, although the last of these had a mixed population.[8]

The 2nd-century AD writer and theologian Tatian states that he was born in the land of the Assyrians.

Justinus, the Roman historian wrote in 300 AD: "The Assyrians, who are afterwards called Syrians, held their empire thirteen hundred years".[9]

In the 380s AD, the Roman historian Ammianus Marcellinus during his travels in Upper Mesopotamia with Jovian states that; "Within this circuit is Adiabene, which was formerly called Assyria;" Ammianus Marcellinus also refers to an extant region called Assyria located between the Tigris and Euphrates.[10]

Armenian histories from the 5th century AD refer to the Christians of Northern Mesopotamia as Assyrians; this was a period when northern Mesopotamia was also still called Assuristan.[11]

Views during the medieval period and Renaissance

The 10th-century AD Arab scholar Ibn al-Nadim, while describing the books and scripture of many people defines the word "Ashuriyun" (Arabic for Assyrians) as "a sect of Jesus" inhabiting northern Mesopotamia.[12]

In the mid-16th century AD, Pope Julius III initially named the church of converts from the Assyrian Church to Catholicism as The Church of Athura (Assyria) and Mosul, and its first Patriarch Yohannan Sulaqa as Patriarch of the Eastern Assyrians. This was only later changed to The Chaldean Catholic Church.

During the 16th century AD, according to the "Chronicle of the Carmelites in Persia", Pope Paul V, in a letter to the Persian Shah Abbas I (1571-1629) of 3 November 1612 mentions that the Jacobites endorsed an "Assyrian" identity.[13]

... Those in particular who are called Assyrians or Jacobites and inhabit Isfahan will be compelled to sell their very children in order to pay the heavy tax you have imposed on them, unless You take pity on their misfortune.

Sharaf Khan Al-Bedlissi, a 16th-century AD Kurdish historian mentions Asuri' (Assyrians) as being extant in northern Mesopotamia.[14]

John Selden, writing in 1617 AD, suggested that the term Syrian actually derived from Assyrian and concluded that those called Syrians were actually Assyrians.

Modern scholarly claims and views

19th- and early-20th-century views

A number of 19th-century Assyriologists such as Austen Henry Layard, the ethnic Assyrian archaeologist Hormuzd Rassam and the Oriental scholar George Percy Badger supported Assyrian continuity.

Englist priest Henry Burgess, writing in the early 1850s, states that Upper Mesopotamia was still known as Assyria/Athura by the Semitic Christian population of the region.[15]

E.B. Soane wrote in 1892, "The Mosul people, especially the Christians are very proud of their city and the antiquity of its surroundings; the Christians, regard themselves as direct descendants of the great rulers of Assyria".[16]

Anglican missionary, Rev. W. A. Wigram, in his book The Assyrians and Their Neighbours (1929), writes, "The Assyrian stock, still resident in the provinces about the ruins of Nineveh, Mosul, Arbela, and Kirkuk, and seem to have been left to their own customs in the same way."[17]

R. S. Stafford in 1935 describes the Assyrians as descending from their ancient namesakes, surviving the various periods of foreign rule intact, and until World War I of having worn items of clothing much like the ancient Assyrians.[18]

Historical opinion

The Assyriologist Simo Parpola also says that there is strong evidence that Assyrian identity and culture continued after the fall of the Assyrian Empire and into the present day.[3] Parpola further points out that traditional Assyrian religion remained strong until the 3rd and 4th centuries AD, surviving among small communities of Assyrians up to at least the 10th century AD in Upper Mesopotamia, and as late as the 18th century AD in Mardin.[19] Parpola asserts that the Neo-Assyrian Upper Mesopotamian kingdoms of Adiabene, Assur, Osrhoene, Beth Nuhadra, Beth Garmai and to some degree Hatra which existed between the 1st century BC and 5th century AD in Assyria, were distinctly Assyrian linguistically (all speaking and writing in the Assyrian originating Syriac language) and to a great degree culturally and ethnically.

H. W. F. Saggs in his The Might That Was Assyria clearly supports ethnic and cultural continuity, pointing out that the Assyrian population was never wiped out or deported after the fall of its empire, and that after Christianisation the Assyrians have continued to keep alive their identity and heritage.[Note 1] However, Saggs disputes an extreme racial purity, he points out that even at its mightiest, Assyria deported populations of Jews, Elamites, Arameans, Neo-Hittites, Urartians and others into Assyria, and that these peoples became Assyrianised and were absorbed and blended into the native population.

Sidney Smith accepts small, poor communities have continued to perpetuate some basic Assyrian identity after the fall of the empire through to the present.[Note 2] Efram Yildiz echoes this view also.

Georges Roux notes that Assyrian culture and national religion were still very much alive into the 3rd and 4th centuries AD, with the city of Ashur possibly being independent for a while in the 3rd century AD, and that the Neo-Assyrian kingdom of Adiabene was a virtual resurrection of Assyria, but he does state that it had become culturally somewhat different.[22] Roux also states that, "After the fall of Assyria, however, its actual name was gradually changed to 'Syria'; thus, in the Babylonian version of Darius I inscriptions, Eber-nari ("across-the-river," i.e. Syria, Palestine and Phoenicia) corresponds to the Persian and Elamite Athura (Assyria); besides, in the Behistun inscription, Izalla, the region of Syria renowned for its wine, is assigned to Athura."

The noted Iranologist Richard Nelson Frye also clearly accepts ethnic continuity from ancient times to the present. Frye points out that the term 'Syrian' actually meant 'Assyrian', particularly when applied to the Semites (and the Syriac Christians they would become) in northern Mesopotamia and its surrounds.

Patricia Crone and Michael Cook assert that Assyrian identity never died out after the fall of its empire, evidenced by a major revival of Assyrian consciousness and culture that was evident between the 2nd century BC and 4th century AD.[23]

Similarly, Robert D. Biggs accepts genealogical continuity without prejudicing cultural continuity, pointing out that the modern Assyrians are the ethnic descendants of their ancient ancestors but became culturally different from them with the advent of Christianity.[24]"Especially in view of the very early establishment of Christianity in Assyria and its continuity to the present and the continuity of the population, I think there is every likelihood that ancient Assyrians are among the ancestors of modern Assyrians.

John Curtis strongly disputes the biblical assertions that Assyria became an uninhabited wasteland after its fall, pointing out its wealth and influence during the various periods of Persian rule.[25] This view is now strongly accepted by most historians today, including by Roux, Oppenheim, Parpola, Saggs, Biggs, Brinkman and many others.

J.B Segal states that "Although the Assyrian empire had fallen, the Assyrians continued to retain the Assyrian culture" in Edessa, Urhay and Upper Mesopotamia, with gods such as Sin, Shamash, Ashur, Hadad and Ishtar of Nineveh being worshipped until Eastern Rite Christianity took hold. He also states that "Within the Abgar dynasty, there were kings named Mannu, the Akkadian name that was found in the Assyrian inscriptions from the assyrian city of Tushan" (southeastern Turkey).[Note 3]

Stephanie Dalley points out that within Syriac Christianity of the region, northern Iraq in general, and particularly Mosul and its surrounds, continued to be referred to as Athour in Syriac literature from the early Christian period through to modern times.[27]

An implicit link between the modern Assyrian Christians and their ancient namesakes was made during the period from the 1920s through to the 1950s with the creation of the Iraq Levies (often called the Assyrian Levies) with the reintroduction of ancient Imperial Assyrian military rankings for this Assyrian dominated force, as described by author Len Deighton, who notes that the Assyrians stood out among other Iraqi peoples for their bravery, discipline and fighting qualities.[28]

A report by Reuters from 1987, states that, "The new evidence shows that rather than dispersing after the fall of their empire, the Assyrians formed small societies some distance away from their main cities."[29]

The term "Assyria"

The question of the synonymity of Syria vs. Assyria was, even during the existence of Assyria, already discussed by classical authors: Herodotus, writing in the 5th century BC, makes a clear reference to the existence of Assyrians and the meaning of the term Syrian, stating that Those we call Syrians, are called by themselves and the barbarians, Assyrians.[30]

As has been mentioned, figures well known in the Greco-Roman world between the 5th century BC and 5th century AD, acknowledged Assyria and acknowledged Syria meant Assyria when in reference to northern Mesopotamia, such as Herodotus, Xenophon, Strabo, Justinus, Tatian and Lucian, and in the cases of the latter two, an espousing of an Assyrian identity.

In the 12th century AD Michael the Syrian mentions that the Christians of Mesopotamia - known as "Syrians" in the west - are in fact known as "Assyrians"' by themselves and in the east, echoing exactly the same distinction made 1600 years earlier by Herodotus, and later by Strabo.

In the mid 16th century AD Pope Julius III initially named the church of converts from the Assyrian Church to Catholicism as The Church of Athura (Assyria) and Mosul, and its first Patriarch Yohannan Sulaqa as Patriarch of the Eastern Assyrians. This was only later changed to The Chaldean Catholic Church.

Pope Paul V (in office 1605-1621) also used the term Assyrian when describing the Semitic Christians of north-western Iran and north-eastern Mesopotamia, this being a period when some Assyrians had already adopted Catholicism.

Theodor Nöldeke, writing in 1881 AD gave philological support to the assumption that Syria and Assyria have the same etymology, and that historically Syria meant Assyria.[31]

J. F. Coakley disagrees, stating that those he describes as Syrians began to adopt an Assyrian identity only at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century, subsequent to Anglican contact with the Assyrians.[32]

Giorgi Tsereteli points out that the term Assyrian continued to be used to describe the Christian Eastern Aramaic speaking people in and around northern Mesopotamia in Georgian, Armenian (known as Assouri), Russian, Arab and Persian records from ancient times, the Middle Ages and through to the present day.

Robert Rollinger states that there is conclusive proof that Cilician, Cappadocian and Greek subjects of the Assyrian Empire were referring to Assyria as Syria, and the Assyrians as Syrians as long ago as the 9th and 8th centuries BC. This was a period when Assyria was at the height of its power, and a period six centuries before The Levant (Modern Syria) was also labelled Syria by the Seleucid Empire. The Levant at this time was still called Aramea and Eber Nari.

Aziz Suryal Atiya notes that Syriac Christianity in fact means Assyrian Christianity, as it evolved in Assyria in the very earliest days of the faith, and that Syriac in fact meant Assyrian in an ethnic, linguistic and geographic context. He mentions that this form of Christianity evolved with a specific reference to Assyrian antiquity.[33] This is a confirmation of the observations made by H. W. F. Saggs who also believes that the Syriac Christians of the region kept alive the memory of their Assyrian predecessors but also combined them with traditions from the Bible.

Poutrus Nasri, an Egyptian theologian states that The Church of the East had many adherents who espoused an Assyrian identity during the Parthian and Sassanid periods.[34]

Even into the 18th and 19th centuries, the region around Mosul was still known as Athura by the native Christian population.

Horatio Southgate points out that in the early 19th century, the Semitic Christians called themselves Assyrians, as did their Armenian neighbours.

Jean Maurice Fiey and John Joseph disagree, citing the lack of ancient Mesopotamian names among Assyrian Church of the East, Syriac Orthodox Church and Chaldean Catholic Church priests and bishops as evidence that an Assyrian identity or consciousness in the region was lost.

Adam H. Becker of New York University[35] regards the continuity claims as "hogwash" and writes that the special continuity claims "must be understood as a modern invention worthy of the study of a Benedict Anderson or an Eric Hobsbawm rather than an ancient historian." Becker describes Assyrians as East Syrians in his writings.[36]

However, Robert Rollinger and Richard Nelson Frye among others point out that the 9th century BC Indo-Anatolian term Suria and its derivatives (Syrians, Syriacs, East Syrians etc.) in actuality originally meant and specifically referred only to Assyria and the Assyrians, only coming to erroneously also include the Arameans of the Levant many centuries later, during the Seleucid Empire, and it was this misapplication that caused the later Assyrian vs Syrian naming confusion in the western world.[30][31]

David Wilmshurst, a historian of the Church of the East, accepts only limited and insignificant continuity, and argues that a strong consciousness of Assyrian identity only emerged in the final decades of the 19th Century, as a consequence of the earlier archaeological discovery of the ruins of Nineveh in 1845.[37]

However, the observations made by Horatio Southgate whilst travelling in northern Mesopotamia in the early 1840s in the period prior to these Assyrian archaeological discoveries[38] show that the Armenians of southeastern Anatolia and northern Mesopotamia were at that period clearly using the term 'Assyrian' in preference to the term 'Syrian', and that the Assyrians in these regions clearly regarded themselves as Assyrians descendant from their ancient namesakes.[Note 4]

Southgate also states that "The common language in the district is Turkish, in which language it is that the Athour of the Syriac and Arabic is converted into Asour, and the Athouri of the Arabic, (Syriac, Othoroyo,) into Asouri, the common name of the Syrians."[39]

The Political Dictionary of the Modern Middle East lists the Assyrians as Remnants of the people of ancient Mesopotamia, succeeding the Sumero-Akkadians and the Babylonians as one continuous civilization.[40]

Dr. Arian Ishaya states that Assyrian continuity claims are historically and factually no less reasonable or valid than French, German, Anglo-Saxon, Persian, Greek or Egyptian continuity, and in fact more valid than many other accepted or unquestioned continuity claims in the world, and in light of this, denials of Assyrian continuity are in fact illogical and hypocritical, or borne out of racial prejudice or political motivation.[41]

The much later arriving Arabs of Syria and Mesopotamia never used the terms Syrian, Syriac and their derivatives to describe themselves historically, only adopting the phonetically different term Suri after the formation of the modern Syrian Arab Republic in the 1930s, thus these terms were traditionally specific only to the Assyrians themselves, and from the Greco-Roman period to Levantine Arameans also.[42]

Differences between Assyrians and neighbouring peoples

Kevin B. MacDonald asserts that Assyrians have survived as an ethnic, linguistic, religious and political minority from the fall of the Assyrian Empire through to the present day. He points out that maintaining a language, religion, identity and customs distinct from their neighbours has aided their survival.[Note 5]

Silvio Zaorani differentiates between Levantine and Mesopotamian populations, stating that; "even if "Syrian" were derived from "Assyrian", it does not mean that the people and culture of geographical Syria are identical to those of geographical Assyria."[43]

Eden Naby asserts that the Assyrians are clearly linguistically, genetically, culturally and historically distinct from all other peoples in the Near East, and that they are descendants of their ancestors based upon genetic, linguistic, cultural and historical proof.[44]

Philip Hitti states that Syrian and Syriac Christian are simply vague generic terms encompassing a number of different peoples, and that the Semitic Christians of northern Mesopotamia are most appropriately described as Assyrians.[45]

The United Nations organization, Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization (UNPO) recognises Assyrians as the Indigenous people of northern Iraq.[46]

The BBC in 2004 listed the Assyrian Christian population of Iraq as descendants of the ancient Assyrians.[47]

The governments of Iraq, Iran, Syria, Turkey and Armenia recognise Assyrians as a distinct ethnic group.

Genetic continuity

A series of modern Genetic Studies have shown that the modern Assyrians from Northern Iraq, Southeastern Turkey, Northwestern Iran and Northeastern Syria are in a genetic sense one homogenous people, regardless of which church they belong to (e.g. Assyrian Church of the East, Chaldean Catholic, Syriac Orthodox, Assyrian Protestant). Furthermore, their collective genetic profile differs from neighbouring Syrians, Levantine Syriac Christians, Kurds, Iranians, Arabs, Turks, Armenians, Jews, Yezidis, Shabakis, Greeks, Georgians, Circassians, Turcomans, Maronite Christians, Egyptians and Mandeans.[48][49][50][51][52]

Late 20th century DNA analysis conducted on Assyrian members of the Assyrian Church of the East, Chaldean Catholic Church and Syriac Orthodox Church by Cavalli-Sforza, Paolo Menozzi and Alberto Piazza, "shows that Assyrians have a distinct genetic profile that distinguishes their population from any other population."[48] Genetic analysis of the Assyrians of Persia demonstrated that they were "closed" with little "intermixture" with the Muslim Persian population and that an individual Assyrian's genetic makeup is relatively close to that of the Assyrian population as a whole.[49] Cavalli-Sforza et al. state in addition, "[T]he Assyrians are a fairly homogeneous group of people, believed to originate from the land of old Assyria in northern Iraq", and "they are Christians and are probably bona fide descendants of their namesakes."[50] "The genetic data are compatible with historical data that religion played a major role in maintaining the Assyrian population's separate identity during the Christian era".[48]

A 2008 study on the genetics of "old ethnic groups in Mesopotamia," including 340 subjects from seven ethnic communities (Assyrian, Jewish, Zoroastrian, Armenian, Turkmen and Arab peoples of Iran, Iraq, and Kuwait) found that Assyrians were homogeneous with respect to all other ethnic groups sampled in the study, regardless of each Assyrians religious affiliation.[Note 6]

A study by Dr Joel J. Elias found that Assyrians of all denominations were a homogenous group, and genetically distinct from all other Near Eastern ethnicities.[48]

In a 2006 study of the Y-chromosome DNA of six regional populations, including, for comparison, Assyrians and Syrians, researchers found that "the Semitic populations (Assyrians and Syrians) are very distinct from each other according to both [comparative] axes. This difference supported also by other methods of comparison points out the weak genetic affinity between the two populations with different historical destinies."[52]

In 2008 Fox News in the United States ran a feature called "Know your Roots". As part of the feature, an Assyrian reporter, Nineveh Dinha was tested by Her DNA profile was traced back to the region of Harran in south-eastern Anatolia in 1400 BC, which was a part of ancient Assyria.[53]

In a 2011 study focusing on the genetics of Marsh Arabs of Iraq, researchers identified Y chromosome haplotypes shared by Marsh Arabs, Arabic speaking Iraqis, Mandeans and Assyrians, "supporting a common local background."[Note 7]

Political issues

Mordechai Nisan, the Israeli Orientalist, also supports the view that Assyrians should be named specifically as such in an ethnic and national sense, are the descendants of their ancient namesakes, and denied self-expression for political, ethnic and religious reasons.[55]

Dr. Arian Ishaya a historian and Anthropologist of UCLA states that the confusion of names applied to the Assyrians, and a denial of Assyrian identity and continuity, is on one hand borne out of 19th and early 20th century imperialistic, condescending and arrogant meddling by westerners, rather than by historical fact, and on the other hand by long held Islamic, Arab, Kurdish, Turkish and Iranian policies, whose purpose is to, divide the Assyrian people along false lines and deny their singular identity, with the aim of preventing the Assyrians having any chance of unity, self-expression and potential statehood.[41]

Naum Elias Yaqub Palakh (better known as Naum Faiq), a 19th-century advocate of Assyrian nationalism from the Syriac Orthodox Church community in Diyarbakir, encouraged Assyrians to unite together regardless of tribal and theological differences[56]

Ashur Yousif, an Assyrian Protestant from the same region of south eastern Turkey as Faiq also espoused Assyrian unity during the early 20th century, stating that the Church of the East, Chaldean Catholic and Syriac Orthodox Assyrians were one people, divided purely upon religious lines.[57]

Freydun Atturaya (Freydon Bet-Abram Atoraya) also advocated Assyrian unity and was a staunch supporter of Assyrian identity and nationalism and the formation of an ancestral Assyrian homeland in the wake of the Assyrian genocide.[58]

Farid Nazha an influential Syrian born Assyrian nationalist deeply criticised the leaders of the various churches followed by the Assyrian people, accusing the Syriac Orthodox Church, Assyrian Church of the East, Chaldean Catholic Church and Syriac Catholic Church of creating divisions among Assyrians, when their joint ethnic and national identity should be paramount.[59][60]

Linguistic continuity

The issue of the gradual transfer from Assyrian-Akkadian to Eastern Aramaic has also been a bone of contention.

It is accepted that this was a gradual process, evolving over many centuries and one that was significantly instigated by the Assyrians themselves, rather than as a result of the destruction of the Assyrian people and their wholesale replacement by Arameans, for which there appears to be no historical evidence whatsoever. This is evidenced by the fact that in the mid 8th century BC the king of Assyria, Tiglath-pileser II, himself introduced Imperial Aramaic as the lingua franca of Assyria and its empire, and that the Akkadian influenced and infused dialects of this language were common in Assyria at the very height of Assyrian nationhood, culture and nationalism, their direct descendant dialects surviving to this day.

In addition, many peoples who have latterly experienced a total or partial language shift or loss of original language, still retain an ethnic identity from a period before the linguistic shift took place, the now almost exclusively English speaking Scots and Irish being examples of this.

J. A Brinkman theorises that the Aramaic language took over because of its simple alphabet and structure as opposed to the 600-700 syllables of the unwieldy Assyro-Babylonian language.

Simo Parpola asserts that Eastern Aramaic had become so entrenched in Assyrian identity that the Greeks regarded the Imperial Aramaic of the Achaemenid Empire during the 5th and 4th centuries BC as The Assyrian Language.[Note 8]

Paropla also states that; And so it becomes evident that, just as Aramaic was the Imperial Assyrian language, the very similar Syriac (or if one agrees with the Greek historians - Assyrian) also later became the ecclesiastical language of the Assyrian Eastern Churches. He notes that The 5th century Greek historian Thucydides calls Imperial Aramaic Assyrian. He goes on to mention that the term Oromoyo meaning Aramean has never been applied to the Assyrians by themselves, but only to Levantine Syriacs, and that terms now accepted by academic majority as etymologically derivative from Assyrian/Assurayu such as Atorayeh, Suryoyo, Turyoyo, Sooraya were in fact used.

By the 3rd century AD at the very latest, Akkadian was extinct, although significantly some loaned vocabulary still survives in Assyrian Eastern Aramaic dialects to this day.[61][62]

The distinct Akkadian influenced Eastern Aramaic dialects spoken by Assyrians today emerged from the varieties of Assyrian Akkadian influenced Aramaic that developed specifically in and around Upper Mesopotamia and Assyria (modern northern Iraq, southeast Turkey, northeast Syria and northwest Iran) from the 8th century BC onwards, as opposed to the very different western varieties of the Levant (modern Levantine Syria, Lebanon and northern Jordan).

Among ethnic Assyrians, numbers of fluent speakers range from approximately 600,000 to 1,000,000, with the main dialects being Assyrian Neo-Aramaic (250,000 speakers), Chaldean Neo-Aramaic (216,000 speakers) and Surayt/Turoyo (112,000 to 450,000 speakers), together with a number of smaller closely related dialects with no more than 10,000 speakers between them. Contrary to what their names somewhat misleadingly suggest, these mutually intelligible dialects are in fact not divided upon Assyrian Church of the East/Chaldean Catholic church/Syriac Orthodox church lines.[63][Note 5]

In addition, as noted linguist Geoffrey Khan points out, a number of vocabulary and grammatical features in the colloquial modern neo-Aramaic dialects spoken by the Assyrians shows similarities with the ancient Akkadian language,. Whereas significantly, the now near extinct Western Aramaic dialects of the Arameans (Oromoyo), Phoenicians, Nabateans, Jews and Levantine Syriacs of Syria and the Levant do not.

This indicates strongly that the Assyrian Eastern Aramaic dialects gradually replaced Akkadian among the Assyrian populace, and that they were clearly both influenced by and overlaid the earlier Assyrian Akkadian tongue of the region, unlike Aramaic dialects spoken in the Levant .[65]

One example is the use of the prefixed article k- or other variants of it such as ki- and či- which does not appear in classical Syriac.[66] Evidence of the existence of an earlier language which differs from Classical Syriac can be found in other medieval texts such as an Arabic medical book that was composed by Ibn Baklarish in Spain. The book lists a number of medical elements in a variety of languages including one designated as al-suryāniyya which would presumably correspond with Syriac. The words listed under it are not Classical Syriac however, but correspond to forms found only in the modern Assyrian dialects spoken to the east of the Tigris.[67]

Another distinguishing grammatical feature of modern Assyrian which differs from Syriac is the inflection of past verbs by a series of suffixes that contain the preposition l-, e.g. grišle 'he pulled' and grišli 'I pulled' compared with the Syriac graš and gerešt respectively. The use of this suffix has been attested to Aramaic documents dating back to the 5th century B.C.[67] This verbal form is originally a passive construction consisting of a passive participle and an agentive phrase. Examples of this passive construction has been later found in Mandaic and Babylonian Talmudic Aramaic and even in Syriac. All these forms of Aramaic are however far more frequently expressed by the active verbal form graš, and the passive types are likely to be reflections of the contemporary spoken vernacular that have infiltrated the standard literary language.[68]

There is also a number of Akkadian words mostly connected with agriculture that have been preserved in modern Syriac vernaculars. One example is the word miššara 'rice paddy field' which is a direct descendant of the Akkadian mušāru. A number of words in the dialect of Bakhdida (Qaraqosh) shows the same origin, e.g. baxšimə 'storeroom (for grain)' from Akkadian bīt ḫašīmi 'storehouse' and raxiṣa 'pile of straw' from raḫīṣu 'pile of harvest produce'.[69]

Some grammatical features that are found in the modern Assyrian dialects are typologically more archaic than the corresponding features in classical Syriac. In the dialect of Qaraqosh, for example, the infinitive of all verbal stems does not have an initial m-, by contrast with Syriac infinitives, which have acquired this prefix by analogy with the participles.[69]

A number of Assyrian family names, such as Ashur, Hadad, Shamash, Ramsin, Shinu, Dayan and Akkad, together with tribal names such as Bit-Shamasha, Bit Tyareh, Bit-Kasrani and Bit-Eshtazin have clear reference to Ancient Mesopotamian origin.

Scarcity of Assyrian names in the Christian Era

One of the main arguments against the continuity hypothesis is the scarcity of Assyrian and Mesopotamian (East Semitic) pagan personal names among the Assyrian Christian priests, bishops and other religious figures. This argument has been put forward by John Joseph, Jean Maurice Fiey and David Wilmshurst. Fiey comments, 'I have made indices of my Assyrie chretienne, and have had to align some 50 pages of proper names of people; there is not a single writer who has an 'Assyrian' name.' Wilmshurst comments, 'The names of thousands of Assyrian and Chaldean Catholic bishops, priests, deacons and scribes between the third and nineteenth centuries are known, and there is not a Sennacherib or Ashurbanipal among them.'[70][71]

Defenders of the continuity hypothesis have argued that it is usual and common for peoples to adopt Biblical names after undergoing Christianisation, particularly as names such as Sennacherib and Ashurbanipal have clear pagan connotations, and thus unlikely to be used by Christian priests, and many were in fact throne names or eponyms.

Nevertheless, Fred Aprim has asserted that distinct Assyrian names did indeed continue in an unbroken line from ancient times to the present, giving a number of examples.[72] Simo Parpola also gives evidence of the continuation of ancient Assyrian names, and shows that they, together with native Assyrian religion, they remained common into the 4th century AD, only reducing significantly with the advent of Christianity, this position is supported by Richard Nelson Frye also.

Odisho Gewargis explained the general scarcity (but not total absence) of autochthonous personal names as a process taking place only after Christianization. The reduction in ethnic naming is of course common in most peoples that adopt a monotheistic religion, and they are generally replaced with Biblical Names; an example of this would be the scarcity of traditional English names such as Wolfstan, Redwald, Aethelred, Offa and Wystan among modern Englishmen, compared to the commonality of non English biblical names such as John, Mark, David, Paul, Thomas, Daniel, Michael, Matthew, Benjamin, Elizabeth, Mary, Joanne, Josephine, Paula, Rebecca, Simone, Ruth etc.[Note 9]

Syria versus Assyria naming controversy

Main article: Name of Syria

Another argument concerns the controversy between the terms Syrian/Syriac vs Assyrian. In the past, some sceptics had long pointed out, and a few continue to do so despite strong evidence to the contrary, that the prevalence of the term Syrian/Syriac was a strong argument against the idea of Assyrian identity. However, the modern consensus that Syria/Syrian/Syriac derives from Assyria/Assyrian etymologically, historically and geographically has served to strengthen the Assyrian continuity argument rather than weaken it.

The question was addressed from the Early Classical period through to the Renaissance Era by the likes of Herodotus, Strabo, Justinus, Michael the Syrian and John Selden, with each of these stating that Syrian was synonymous and derivative of Assyrian. Acknowledgments being made as early as the 5th century BC in the Hellenistic world that the Indo-European term Syrian was a derived from the much earlier Assyrian, and that Syrians were actually Assyrians in relation to northern Mesopotamia and its immediate surrounds. Similarly, distinctions between those dubbed Syrians/East Syrians/West Syrians were made as early as the 9th century AD, with the observation that those called Syrian in Upper Mesopotamia and its surrounds were in fact Assyrians, and those called Syrians in The Levant were in fact Arameans.

In modern times, supporters of the Assyrian continuity hypothesis have argued very successfully that the terms Syrian, East Syrian and Syriac are indeed 9th century BC derivatives of Assyrian, and in past times (for at least five or six centuries until the Seleucid period in the late 4th or early 3rd century BC) these terms actually meant specifically and only Assyria and Assyrian, and referred solely to Assyria- which consisted of the northern half of modern Iraq, north eastern Syria, south eastern Turkey and the north western fringes of Iran, and not to The Levant and its Aramean and Phoenician inhabitants. Cilician, Commagene Cappadocian, Neo-Hittite, Lydian and Luwian subject peoples of the Neo Assyrian Empire (911-605 BC) used the abbreviated term Syria when clearly and specifically referring only to Assyria their Assyrian overlords.

Significantly, the region now encompassing Modern Syria, excluding the historically Assyrian northeastern corner, was not known as Syria/Assyria during this time, nor were its inhabitants known as Syrians or Syriacs. Historically, the Levant had initially been known as The land of the Amurru (Amorites), then as Aramea and Eber Nari, with the appellation Syria only being misapplied to it (as well as Assyria itself) in the late 4th or early 3rd century BC.

A number of scholars have pointed out that terms such as Suraya, Suroyo, Surayi Su-reh, Ossuroyo, Othuroyo, Athoraya, and Ashuraya all have the same root origins in Assurayu, and are merely different as a result of regional dialectic, phonetic and historical changes in language over time, something which is common to all long attested languages, including English, French, German etc.[74][75][76]

J.A Brinkman points out that even during the Assyrian empire, there was a phonetic shift from Ashur to Assur which occurred during the 1oth century BC.[77]

The Encyclopedia Americana states, under the entry Syria, "It is now certain that the name "Syria" is derived from the older "Assyria"[78]

Majority mainstream scholarly opinion now strongly supports the already dominant position that 'Syrian' and 'Syriac' indeed derived from 'Assyrian', and the 21st Century discovery of the Çineköy inscription seems to clearly confirm that Syria is ultimately derived from the Assyrian term "𒀸𒋗𒁺 𐎹" Aššūrāyu, thus lending support to the argument that those called Syrians and Syriacs in Mesopotamia and its immediate surrounds are Assyrians.[79]

Other naming controversies

Other scholars note that religious terms with no ethnic meaning such as Syriac Christians, Jacobites, Chaldeans, Nestorians and the generic Middle Eastern Christians/Iraqi Christians were imposed at a much later date upon a people always historically known as Assyrians by themselves and neighbouring peoples by external, largely Western and Theological sources.[45][80]

The term Nestorian was applied not just to the eastern Aramaic speaking Assyrians, but to any member of an eastern rite church, regardless of geography, ethnicity and language, and included such diverse peoples as Assyrians, Arameans, Nabateans, Phoenicians, Arabs, Armenians, Greeks, Anatolians, Indians, Iranians, Mongols, Turkic peoples and Chinese, spanning a region stretching from Cyprus in the west to China in the east, thus it is clearly purely a doctrinal rather than an ethnic, cultural, linguistic historical or geographic label. The name simply means a member of the Nestorian Church, and this has no more ethnic or geographical connotation than being a member of the Baptist Church or LDS churches.

Assyrians also often reject this label even in a theological sense, pointing out that the Church of the East was both four centuries older and also doctrinally distinct from Nestorius and his teachings, and also because they are a Multi-denominational people with a distinct and specific ethnicity, language, culture, genetic profile and are from a distinct and specific historical and geographic homeland. Philip Hitti states that it is an inaccurate term both chronologically and theologically and has no ethnic meaning.[45]

Hannibal Travis states that later erroneous names which served to confuse Assyrian identity in the Western World, such as Nestorians, Syrians, Syriacs, and Chaldeans, were names imposed by Western Missionaries such as the Catholics and Protestants on the Ottoman, Persian and Mesopotamian Assyrians. The Greek, Persian, and Arab rulers of occupied Assyria, as well as Assyrian Church, Chaldean Catholic and Syriac Orthodox patriarchs and clergy, together with Armenian, Georgian, Arab, Kurdish, Turkish, Russian, British, and French laypeople, called them Assyrians.[80]

Artur Boháč asserts that Assyrians are an ethnically, linguistically and religiously distinct minority in the Near East, descendant from the ancient Semitic Assyrians, and unrelated on ethnic, linguistic, cultural and genetic levels to Arabs, Kurds, Iranians, Armenians and Levantine Syriacs. Boháč ehoes Hannibal Travis in pointing out that the confusion of later names applied to the Assyrian ethnic group were introduced by Western theologians and missionaries, and others arose out of doctrinal rather than ethnic divisions.[81]

Chaldean continuity

In recent times, a small and mainly United States-based minority within the Chaldean Catholic Church have begun to espouse a separate Chaldean ethnic identity. They assert that they are a different and separate race to the modern Assyrians, and are actually the direct descendents of the Chaldeans of southeast Mesopotamia, and not descendants of the Semitic people of Assyria and Upper Mesopotamia. This is only a minority viewpoint among Chaldean Catholics, which has found no support in academic circles, there being absolutely no serious or accredited academic study which provides any credible evidence whatsoever, let alone proof, that there is any historical, cultural, ethnic, anthropological geographical, genetic, linguistic, archaeogenetic or circumstantial Chaldean continuity linking modern north Mesopotamian members of the Chaldean Catholic Church to the long extinct Chaldeans of south eastern Mesopotamia. Chaldean Catholics are in fact always included in the Assyrian continuity hypothesis, and originate from exactly the same region, towns and villages as those long before called Assyrians, bear exactly the same family and personal names, speak the same language, have the same cultural practices, were for fifteen centuries members of exactly the same church, and have exactly the same genetic profile as other Assyrians.

The terms Chaldean, Chaldo-Assyrian and Chaldean Catholic, when used in reference to upper Mesopotamian Christians, are only historically recent terms that refer to those traditionally known by much older terms such as Assurayu-Assyrians, and later ethnic derivatives such as Athurai, Assouri, Atorayeh, Ashuriyun, Assuristani, East Assyrians, Syriacs, Sorayeh and East Syrians, as well as by the theological terms Syriac Christians, Nestorians and Jacobites. There is no record of these people (or their neighbours) ever referring to themselves as Chaldeans, Chaldees or Kaldani until long after the establishment of the Chaldean Catholic Church.

All were in fact North Mesopotamian former members of the Assyrian Church of the East, who entered into communion with the Roman Catholic Church between the 16th and 18th centuries, after failing to gain acceptance into the Syriac Orthodox Church. Again, this is properly taken as purely a theological and doctrinal term, in the same vein as Nestorian, Baptist and Mormon, the name of a church only, and has no implication or meaning in an ethnic, cultural or historical sense. Even geographically, the term is wholly inaccurate, the Chaldean Catholic Church itself being founded and followed by people in the far north of Mesopotamia who had never previously called themselves Chaldean, and not in the extreme southeast corner bordering the Persian Gulf where Chaldea had once been.[82]

It was noted throughout the 19th and 20th centuries, even in strong Chaldean Catholic Church regions in Upper Mesopotamia that members of this church regarded themselves as Assyrians in an ethnic and historical sense.[83][84]

The Chaldean Catholic Church was pointedly originally named the Church of Assyria and Mosul and its first leader Patriarch of the Eastern Assyrians circa 1550 AD, and was changed to distinguish its members from the Assyrian Church of the East in 1683 AD, with the modern Chaldean Catholic Church only coming into being in 1830 AD. Its founders and members were all from the Assyrian Homeland in northern Mesopotamia (what was Assyria), rather than the far south east of Mesopotamia where the Ancient Chaldeans migrated to in the 9th century BC, and where they also disappeared from history in the 6th century BC, and no link has been provided linking these people to the Chaldea or Chaldeans of old.

In an interview with Raphael I Bidawid, head of the Chaldean Catholic Church between 1989 and 2003, published in 2003, he commented on the Assyrian name dispute and distinguished between what is merely the name of a church and an actual ethnicity:

"I personally think that these different names serve to add confusion. The original name of our Church was the ‘Church of the East’ ... When a portion of the Church of the East became Catholic, the name given was ‘Chaldean’ based on the Magi kings who came from the land of the Chaldean, to Bethlehem. The name ‘Chaldean’ does not represent an ethnicity... We have to separate what is ethnicity and what is religion... I myself, my sect is Chaldean, but ethnically, I am Assyrian."[82]

In an interview with the Assyrian Star in the September–October 1974 issue, he was quoted as saying:

"Before I became a priest I was an Assyrian, before I became a bishop I was an Assyrian, I am an Assyrian today, tomorrow, forever, and I am proud of it."[85]

The consensus among scholars is that the real Chaldeans, who were late 10th or early 9th century BC West Semitic Levantine Immigrants to South eastern Babylonia, quickly became Akkadianised, adopting Assyro-Babylonian language, religion, names and culture, and that they were wholly subsumed by the end of the 6th century BC, completely disappearing into the much older native population of Babylonia, as fellow migrants such as the Amorites, Kassites, Suteans and Arameans before them had been. It is highly significant that the Achaemenids, Seleucids, Arsacids, Romans, Parthians, Sassanids, Arabs, Savavids, Mongols, Seljuks or Ottomans did not retain a province or land called Chaldea within their empires, nor make mention of a Chaldean race or language in their written records (and nor indeed do the Syriac Christians of Mesopotamia), this in stark contrast to Assyria which continued to endure until the mid 7th century AD.

Proponents of a Chaldean continuity or separateness from Assyrians sometimes claim that they are separate because they speak Chaldean Neo Aramaic rather than Assyrian Neo Aramaic. However, both of these appellations are only 20th century labels applied by modern linguists to regions where one church was seen to be more prevalent than another for convenience, with no historical continuity or ethnic context implied in either. They are also wholly inaccurate; many speakers of Chaldean Neo Aramaic are in fact members of the Assyrian Church of the East, Assyrian Pentecostal, Evangelical Churches or Syriac Orthodox Church,[86] and equally, many speakers of Assyrian Neo Aramaic are members of the Chaldean Catholic Church or Syriac Orthodox Church. This is also true of the Surayt/Turoyo dialect, and minority dialects such as Hértevin, Koy Sanjaq Surat, Bohtan Neo-Aramaic and Senaya. Furthermore, each of these dialects originated in Assyria, evolving from the 8th century BC Imperial Aramaic of the Assyrian Empire and 5th century BC Syriac of Achaemenid Assyria, and there is no evidence of them originating in south east Mesopotamia, where very different dialects such as Mandaic were prevalent.

Another argument put forth is that Chaldeans were recorded as having been deported into Assyria (and other regions) during the Assyrian empire. Proponents of a Chaldean ethnic identity claim that these Chaldean deportees somehow survived as a distinct people from that point into modern times. This too has no academic or factual support whatsoever, as there is no historical evidence, no written proof, archaeological finds, any linguistic, religious or cultural traces, oral tradition etc., that record a Chaldean presence in Assyria/Northern Mesopotamia, or any sense of a Chaldean identity or culture being extant at any time in Assyria either before or after its empire. But as W.H.F Saggs points out, a whole host of diverse peoples, including; Elamites, Hittites, Urartians, Arameans, Israelites, Cilicians and Persians were recorded as being deported into Assyria and other parts of its empire (and unlike the Chaldeans, many of these were utterly different culturally and linguistically to the Assyrians, making them harder to assimilate), and these peoples simply became Assyrianized. In the case of the Chaldeans, they had already long before adopted Assyro-Babylonian names, language, religion and customs, and the process of complete assimilation into Assyria and Babylonia would have proved seamless, as evidenced by their complete disappearance from history by the Achaemenid period. No valid or credible explanation has been put forth explaining how Chaldea and the Chaldeans completely disappeared from the pages of history during the 6th century BC, and then simply reappeared in the late 17th century AD, after a total absence from history of over 2300 years, at the diametric opposite end of Mesopotamia.

It is noteworthy that the term Chaldeans already had a well recorded history of being misapplied in an ethnically and geographically inaccurate sense by Rome to other peoples with no link whatsoever to ancient Chaldea long before being applied to Assyrian converts, having been previously officially used by the Council of Florence in 1445 as a new name for a group of Greek Christians of Cyprus who entered in Full Communion with the Catholic Church.[87] Rome followed to use the term Chaldeans to indicate the members of the Church of the East in Communion with Rome, mainly not to use the terms Assyrian, Syrian and Nestorian that had connotations to theologically unacceptable doctrines. Rome had also previously misapplied the name to Chaldia,[88] a people and region in Anatolia utterly unrelated ethnically, geographically or historically to Chaldea.

See also


  1. "The destruction of the Assyrian Empire did not wipe out its population. They were predominantly peasant farmers, and since Assyria contains some of the best wheat land in the Near East, descendants of the Assyrian peasants would, as opportunity permitted, build new villages over the old cities and carried on with agricultural life, remembering traditions of the former cities. After seven or eight centuries and after various vicissitudes, these people became Christians. These Christians, and the Jewish communities scattered amongst them, not only kept alive the memory of their Assyrian predecessors but also combined them with traditions from the Bible."[20]
  2. "In Achaemenian times there was an Assyrian detachment in the Persian army, but they could only have been a remnant. That remnant persisted through the centuries to the Christian era and beyond, and continued to use in their personal names appellations of their pagan deities. This continuance of an Assyrian tradition is significant for two reasons; the miserable conditions of these late Assyrians is attested to by the excavations at Ashur, and it is clear that they were reduced to extreme poverty by the time of Parthian rule."[21]
  3. "Although the Assyrian empire had fell, the Assyrians retained the Assyrian culture alive. In his book "Edessa: The Blessed City" JB Segal confirms just that. Before Abgar Dynasty in Urhoy received Christianity, Urhoy was a city of Assyrian gods Nabu, Sin, Shamash, Ashur, Bel and Ishtar of Nineveh. Within the Abgar dynasty, there were kings named Mannu, the Akkadian name that was found in the Assyrian inscriptions from the assyrian city of Tushan(southeastern Turkey). This demonstrates that the people of Urhoy and in northern Mesopotamia retained its Assyrian identity and culture long after the Assyrian empire ceased to exist."[26]
  4. "I began to make inquiries for the Syrians. The people informed me that there were about one hundred families of them in the town of Kharpout, and a village inhabited by them on the plain. I observed that the Armenians did not know them under the name which I used, Syriani; but called them Assouri, which struck me the more at the moment from its resemblance to our English name Assyrians, from whom they claim their origin, being sons, as they say, of Assour who 'out of the land of Shinar went forth, and build Nineveh, and the city Rehoboth, and Calah, and Resin between Nineveh and Calah." [39]
  5. 1 2 "Based on interviews with community informants, this paper explores socialization for ingroup identity and endogamy among Assyrians in the United States. The Assyrians descent from the population of ancient Assyria (founded in the 24th century BC), and have lived as a linguistic, political, religious, and ethnic minority in Iraq, Iran, Syria and Turkey since the fall of the Assyrian Empire in 608 BC. Practices that maintain ethnic and cultural continuity in the Near East, the United States and elsewhere include language and residential patterns, ethnically based Christian churches characterized by unique holidays and rites, and culturally specific practices related to life-cycle events and food preparation. The interviews probe parental attitudes and practices related to ethnic identity and encouragement of endogamy. Results are being analyzed."[64]
  6. "The relationship probability was lowest between Assyrians and other communities. Endogamy was found to be high for this population through determination of the heterogeneity coefficient (+0,6867), Our study supports earlier findings indicating the relatively closed nature of the Assyrian community as a whole, which as a result of their religious and cultural traditions, have had little intermixture with other populations."[51]
  7. "In the less frequent J1-M267* clade, only marginally affected by events of expansion, Marsh Arabs shared haplotypes with other Iraqi and Assyrian samples, supporting a common local background."[54]
  8. 'The Greek historian Thucydides reports that during the Peloponnesian wars (ca. 410 BC) the Athenians intercepted a Persian who was carrying a message from the Great King to Sparta. The man was taken prisoner, brought to Athens, and the letters he was carrying were translated "from the Assyrian language", which of course was Aramaic…'
  9. "If the children of Sennacherib were, for centuries, taught to pray and damn Babylon and Assyria, how does the researcher expect from people who wholeheartedly accepted the Christian faith to name their children Ashur and Esarhaddon?"[73]


  1. Refugee Camps and the Spatialization of Assyrian Nationalism in Iraq The rising European missionary presence in the Hakkari region coincided with a number of archeological excavations of the ancient ruins of Nineveh and Babylon,and especially with the discovery of the Nimrud palace of Ashur-nasirpalii in 1848. Missionaries drew on these recent discoveries of pre-Islamic Assyrian greatness to promote the idea of this branch of eastern Christians as direct descendants of this ancient empire.... As historical sociologist Sami Zubaida notes,this “constructed Assyrian identity could then draw on two sources of favourable associations: ancient national ancestry and a Christianity which forged linked with the dominant European powers.” It was during the late nineteenth century that western missionaries began to popularize the word Assyrian previously only one of a number of possible designations for these Christians and not the most prominent,as a mode of identifying the present-day community with the ancient empires.Originally,this idea may have been suggested by local assistants to the excavations like the Assyrian activist Hormuzd Rassam; certainly it buttressed community ambitions for local autonomy,as well as romantic missionary imaginings of an untouched “original” Christian community.
  2. From religious to ethno -religious: Identity change among Assyrians/Syriacs in Sweden The most popular theory suggests that the Assyrian cultural and ethnic identity of the Chaldeans, Jacobites, and Nestorians is a romanticized Western archeological notion based on Sir Austin Henry Layard’s rediscovery of the ancient cities of Nimrud and Niniveh between 1845 and 1848. In most cases, modern scholars have refuted the modern Assyrian claim of descent from the ancient Assyrians of Mesopotamia,and their succeeding the Sumero-Akkadians and the Babylonians as one continuous civilization. Nevertheless, the Assyrian nationalism, or Assyrianism, increased in popularity in the late 19th century in a climate of increasing ethnic and religious persecution of Assyrian Christians in the Middle East.
  3. 1 2 Assyrians After Assyria, Parpola
  4. 1 2 Frye, R. N. (October 1992). "Assyria and Syria: Synonyms" (PDF). Journal of Near Eastern Studies. 51 (4): 281–285. doi:10.1086/373570.
  5. Especially in view of the very early establishment of Christianity in Assyria and its continuity to the present and the continuity of the population, I think there is every likelihood that ancient Assyrians are among the ancestors of modern Assyrians Biggs p.10
  6. P. 195 (16. I. 2-3) of Strabo, translated by Horace Jones (1917). The Geography of Strabo. London : W. Heinemann; New York : G.P. Putnam's Sons.
  7. Crone & Cook 1977
  8. Amir Harrak (1992). "The ancient name of Edessa". Journal of Near Eastern Studies. 51 (3): 209–214. doi:10.1086/373553. JSTOR 545546.
  9. The Origins of Syrian Nationhood: Histories, Pioneers and Identity. Adel Beshara.
  10. Ammianus Marcellinus. XXIII.6.20 and XXXIII.3.1, from
  11. Armenian Books V and VI from 420 AD. Todd B. Krause, John A.C. Greppin, and Jonathan Slocum.
  12. The Fihrist (Catalog): A Tenth Century Survey of Islamic Culture. Abu 'l Faraj Muhammad ibn Ishaq al Nadim. Great Books of the Islamic World. Kazi Publications. Translator: Bayard Dodge.
  13. H. Chick: A Chronicle of the Carmelites in Persia. London 1939, p. 100.
  14. Sharafnameh", translated by Jamil Rozbeyati, Al-Najah Publishing house, Baghdad – 1953
  15. Burgess, Henry. The Repentance of Nineveh. Sampson Low: Son and Co., London, (1853) p.36.
  16. Soane, E.B. To Mesopotamia and Kurdistan in Disguise. John Murray: London, 1912. p. 92.
  17. Rev. W.A. Wigram (1929). The Assyrians and Their Neighbours. London.
  18. The Tragedy of the Assyrians. Lt. Col. R.S. Stafford D.S.O., M.C.
  20. Saggs, p. 290
  21. S. Smith, "Notes on the Assyrian Tree". Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies (1926): 69.
  22. George Roux. Ancient Iraq.
  23. Crone & Cook 1977, p. 55
  24. Biggs p 10
  25. Curtis, John (November 2003). "The Achaemenid Period in Northern Iraq" (PDF). L’archéologie de l’empire achéménide. Paris, France.
  26. Edessa: The Blessed City. JB Segal
  27. Dalley, Stephanie (1993). Nineveh After 612 BC. Alt-Orientanlische Forshchungen 20. p.134.
  29. Printed in Nabu Magazine, Vol. 3, Issue 1 (1997).
  30. 1 2
  31. 1 2 Rollinger, Robert (2006). "The terms 'Assyria' and 'Syria' again". "Assyriology". Journal of Near Eastern Studies, 65(4). pp. 284–287.
  32. The Church of the East and the Church of England: A History of the Archbishop of Canterbury's Assyrian Mission. J. F. Coakley. p.366.
  33. Aziz Suryal Atiya (1968). A History of Eastern Christianity. London: Methuen.
  34. see Poutrus Nasri (1974). History of Syriac Literature. Cairo.
  36. Adam H. Becker. "The Ancient Near East in the Late Antique Near East: Syriac Christian Appropriation of the Biblical East" in Gregg Gardner, Kevin Lee Osterloh (eds.) Antiquity in Antiquity: Jewish and Christian pasts in the Greco-Roman world, p. 396, 2008, Mohr Siebeck, ISBN 978-3-16-149411-6.
  37. Wilmshurst 2011, pp. 413–416
  38. Nineveh and its Remains: with an Account of a Visit to the Chaldaean Christians of Kurdistan, and the Yezidis, and an Inquiry into the Manners and Arts of the Ancient Assyrians (2 vols., 1848–1849).
  39. 1 2 Horatio Southgate (1843): Horatio Southgate (1844). Narrative of a Visit to the Syrian Church. p. 80 "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2011-11-26. Retrieved 2011-12-01..
  40. Korbani, Agnes G. (1995). The Political Dictionary of the Modern Middle East, Lanham, Md.: University Press of America.
  41. 1 2 "Intellectual Domination and the Assyrians". Nineveh Magazine, Vol. 6 No. 4 (Fourth Quarter 1983), published in Berkeley, California.
  42. Assad Sauma-Assad, The Origin of the Word Suryoyo-Syrian The Harp, Vol. VI No. 3 (December 1993)
  43. Silvio Zaorani (Turin, 1993) under the chapter entitled "The Modern Assyrians - Name and Nation", pp. 106-107
  45. 1 2 3 Hitti, Philip Khuri (1957). History of Syria, including Lebanon and Palestine. Macmillan; St. Martin's P.: London, New York.
  46. Unrepresented Nations and People Organization (UNPO). Assyrians the Indigenous People of Iraq [1]
  48. 1 2 3 4 Joel J. Elias (20 July 2000). "The Genetics of Modern Assyrians and their Relationship to Other People of the Middle East".
  49. 1 2 M.T. Akbari, Sunder S. Papiha, D.F. Roberts, and Daryoush D. Farhud. "Genetic Differentiation among Iranian Christian Communities". American Journal of Human Genetics 38 (1986): 84–98.
  50. 1 2 Cavalli-Sforza et al. (1994), p. 243
  51. 1 2 Mohammad Medhi Banoei; Morteza Hashemzadeh Chaleshtori; Mohammad Hossein Sanati; Parvin Shariati (2008). "Variation of DAT1 VNTR alleles and genotypes among old ethnic groups in Mesopotamia to the Oxus region". Human Biology. 80 (1): 73–81. doi:10.3378/1534-6617(2008)80[73:vodvaa];2. PMID 18505046.
  52. 1 2 Levon Yepiskoposian; Ashot Harutyunian & Armine Khudoyan (2006). "Genetic testing of language replacement hypothesis in southwest Asia" (PDF). Iran and the Caucasus. 10 (2): 191–208. doi:10.1163/157338406780345899.
  53. Video on YouTube
  54. Nadia Al-Zahery; Maria Pala; Vincenza Battaglia; Viola Grugni; Mohammed A. Hamod; Baharak Hooshiar Kashani; Anna Olivieri; Antonio Torroni; Augusta S. Santachiara-Benerecetti; Ornella Semino (2011). "In search of the genetic footprints of Sumerians: a survey of Y-chromosome and mtDNA variation in the Marsh Arabs of Iraq". BMC Evolutionary Biology. 11: 288. doi:10.1186/1471-2148-11-288. PMC 3215667Freely accessible. PMID 21970613.
  55. Nisan, M. 2002. Minorities in the Middle East: A History of Struggle for Self Expression. Jefferson: McFarland & Company.
  56. "Neo-Assyrianism & the End of the Confounded Identity". Zinda. 2006-07-06. "The fact remains that throughout the last seven years and the last 150 years for that matter the name Assyrian has always been attached to our political ambitions in the Middle East. Any time, any one of us from any of our church and tribal groups targets a political goal we present our case as Assyrians, Chaldean-Assyrians, or Syriac-Assyrians – making a connection to our "Assyrian" heritage. This is because our politics have always been Assyrian. Men like Naum Faiq and David Perley emerging from a "Syriac" or "Jacobite" background understood this as well as our Chaldean heroes, General Agha Petros d-Baz and the late Chaldean Patriarch Mar Raphael BiDawid."
  57. "The hindrance before the advancement of the Assyrian people was not so much the attacks from without as it was from within, the doctrinal and sectarian disputes and struggles, like Monophysitism (One nature of Christ) Dyophysitism (Two natures of Christ) is a good example, these caused division, spiritually, and nationally, among the people who quarreled among themselves even to the point of shedding blood. To this very day the Assyrians are still known by various names, such as Nestorians, Jacobites, Chaldeans"
  58. Aprim, Fred. "Dr. Freidoun Atouraya". essay. Zinda Magazine. Retrieved 2000-02-01. "AD (February 1917) Hakim Freidoun Atouraya, Rabbie Benyamin Arsanis and Dr. Baba Bet-Parhad establish the first Assyrian political party, the Assyrian Socialist Party. Two months later, Kakim Atouraya completes his "Urmia Manifesto of the United Free Assyria" which called for self-government in the regions of Urmia, Mosul, Turabdin, Nisibin, Jezira, and Julamaerk."
  59. Farid Nazha tog vid där Naum Faiq slutade,
  60. 2.^ Jump up to: a b c d e f Farid Nazha,
  61. Akkadian Words in Modern Assyrian
  62. Kaufman, Stephen A. (1974). The Akkadian influences on Aramaic. University of Chicago Press.
  63. Turoyo at Ethnologue (17th ed., 2013)
  64. MacDonald, Kevin (2004-07-29). "Socialization for Ingroup Identity among Assyrians in the United States". Paper presented at a symposium on socialization for ingroup identity at the meetings of the International Society for Human Ethology, Ghent, Belgium.
  65. Khan 2008, p. 6
  66. Khan 2008, p. 2
  67. 1 2 Khan 2008, p. 3
  68. Khan 2008, p. 4
  69. 1 2 Khan 2008, p. 5
  70. Fiey, "Assyrians ou Arameens?", L'Orient Syrien, 10 (1965), 146–48; Joseph, "The Bible and the Assyrians: It Kept Their Memory Alive", JAAS, 12, 1 (1998), 70–76.
  71. Wilmshurst 2011, p. 415
  73. Odisho. We Are Assyrians. p. 89.
  74. Dr. J.A Brinkman in a lecture entitled Assyrians After the Empire, held at the Mesopotamian Museum in Chicago on January 17, 1999, hosted by the Assyrian Academic Society in conjunction with the museum.
  75. Dr. Pera Sarmas op. cit. no. 7, pp. 68-70
  76. Charles H. Swift - Distinguished Service Professor of Mesopotamian History in the Oriental Institute and in the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilisations at the University of Chicago, Editor of the Chicago Assyrian Dictionary and Curator of the Oriental Institute's Cuneiform Tablet Collection.
  78. The Encyclopedia Americana. International ed. (c1986) Danbury, Conn.: Grolier.
  79. Frye, R. N. (October 1992). "Assyria and Syria: Synonyms" (PDF). Journal of Near Eastern Studies. 51 (4): 281–285. doi:10.1086/373570.
  80. 1 2 Travis, Hannibal. Genocide in the Middle East: The Ottoman Empire, Iraq, and Sudan. Durham, NC: Carolina Academic Press, 2010, 2007, pp. 237-77, 293–294.
  82. 1 2 Parpola, Simo (2004). "National and Ethnic Identity in the Neo-Assyrian Empire and Assyrian Identity in Post-Empire Times" (PDF). Journal of Assyrian Academic Studies. JAAS. 18 (2): 22. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2011-07-17.
  83. Rassam, H. (1897). Asshur and the Land of Nimrod. London.
  84. Southgate, H. (1844). Narrative of a Visit to the Syrian [Jacobite] Church of Mesopotamia : With Statements and Reflections Upon the Present State of Christianity in Turkey and the....
  85. Mar Raphael J Bidawid. The Assyrian Star. September–October, 1974:5.
  86. Nordhoff, Sebastian; Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2013). "Northeastern Neo-Aramaic". Glottolog 2.2. Leipzig: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology.
  87. Council of Florence, Bull of union with the Chaldeans and the Maronites of Cyprus Session 14, 7 August 1445
  88. Anthony Bryer, "Greeks and Türkmens: The Pontic Exception". Dumbarton Oaks Papers, 29 (1975), p.


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